A Dane, closely followed by a smattering of Swedes – that’s how my ‘ favourite five (recorded) musical moments’ break down amongst my new Nordic discoveries of 2013.
I don’t regularly write lists and find it hard to rank musical experiences over each other, but when posed with the question – ‘What were your five best bits of the year?’ – I opted to go for those musical moments that really made me catch my breath and made my heart skip a beat. The ‘magical’ experiences that came to mind are all related to recorded music – albums/EPs that were released this year, along with some accompanying videos that have also particularly caught my attention. I have actually seen all my top five artists play live this year and, although it was the recorded tracks that I was considering when coming up with the selection, every one of the gigs was also magical in their own way. Here’s hoping all these bands – and many more – cross my path again in 2014.
1. Indians (DK) – Somewhere Else
(see our luistertip for week #11 here)
Tha album Somewhere Else by Indians sits at the top of the list, purely and simply as the Scandi CD that’s had most spins on my stereo. On repeat. And it still manages to make me want to see ‘it’ played live. Again. I first saw Søren Løkke Juul in his hometown of Copenhagen in the summer 2012. I don’t think I knew much about him back then, but I did know that I needed to see him again when he played at Eurosonic at the start of this year. I loved the gig (not sure my friends were quite so enamoured who were unfamiliar with his music) and so began my love affair with this CD when it was released towards the end of January. I am a succour for his melodious, ethereal sounds with fragile vocals. This is an album of beauty that unravels itself slowly, and yet is still shining brightly months later. The last video (directed by Ty Olson) for this album was released in September and we share it here now, whilst pondering whether to have a trip to Denmark in February for a unique performance of the album with a 50-piece orchestra.
2. Alice Boman (SE) – Skisser
(see our luistertip for week #42 here)
Alice Boman with her track ‘Waiting’ from the EP Skisser had me under a spell from the very first listen. So much so, I travelled all the way to Malmo just to watch her play that track (she also played others off the EP, naturally – maybe even a new one or two as well – but it was ‘that track’ I’d journeyed to hear). And boy, I wasn’t disappointed. The only disappointment is that I’ve not managed to get to see her play again yet, but this will happen in 2014 – I am sure of it. This is a video shot in her hometown at Mollan studios by the very talented Jesper Berg.
3. Daniel Norgren (SE) – Buck
(see our luistertip from February here)
From the very first time I heard Daniel Norgren sing, he stole my heart… and has had me in tears a few times since (sometimes I get a bit emotional). I discovered Daniel just prior to his performance at the Nordic Delight festival, when I was doing some pre-fest research and I’m so glad I did. This is one seriously talented dude, and a fun chap on top of all that (see a goofy Q&A I did with a fellow fan of the man here). He and his bandmate Anders Grahn might also just darn go and win my favourite gig of the year too ya know, back in April in the small room at Paradiso (see here) – wow, what a gig! – but that is a whole different list that hasn’t yet been compiled yet! ‘Once a Queen’ is one of the tracks off the album that I played on repeat a while back, and here’s a video that was filmed in April by the Cardinal Sessions.
4. Small Feet (SE) – Liar Behind the Sun
(see our luistertip for week #42 here)
Small Feet‘s EP Liar Behind the Sun is not the only musical recording that wins an accolade here, but also the video for ‘Rivers’ AND the fact that the packaging of the cassette tape was so darn appealing (I literally squealed with excitement when mine arrived in the post). The man behind Small Feet is Simon Stålhamrhe, who I had seen previously playing with Rebekka Karijord’s band, and who I’m now pleased to have also seen playing with his own band in Leeuwarden as part of the Explore the North festival last month. The performance was everything I hoped it would be, with ‘Rivers’ being a highlight. So here is that track to literally stop you in your tracks once again, with the (probably soon to be award-winning) video by Oskar Wrangö (and maybe you’d like to see the ‘making of’ video too – but don’t go trying this at home folks!).
5. Junip (SE) – Junip
(see our luistertip for week #17 here)
This choice – and my initial interest in the album – was actually also sparked by a video. Before the release of the self-titled album by Swedish pysch-folk-rock trio Junip, there were tantalising teasers released in the forms of snippets of information and then over a period of a few months before the album release, there were two videos released that were somehow connected, in style, in content? We didn’t know at first. In February, Junip shared the news for the ‘Line of Fire’ via the band’s website: ‘This is our first video from the forthcoming album… make sure you’re sitting down.’ Good call, I think. Directed by Mikel Cee Karlsson, it surely has a sinister Scandinavian aesthetic. I was pretty much addicted to this track when I first heard it, and we share that slightly awkward/strange video again here just for one last time this year! The story continues in the video for ‘Your Life Your Call’ (see here); and we included another video for ‘Walking Lightly’ here, in our preview for the Explore the North festival which was Junip’s last appearance in the Netherlands for this year.
A bunch of other great Nordic music was happily unearthed this year too, and here is a playlist of 20 such tracks – a selection of just some of those that have featured in one way or another on Nordic Vibes this year: